2017 Lions Player Retrospective: Leigh Halfpenny
Having first toured with The British & Irish Lions in South Africa in 2009, and then been named Player of the Series in Australia four years later, Leigh Halfpenny completed the set in style in New Zealand.
The full back appeared four times, including emerging from the bench in the first Test against the All Blacks at Eden Park, and racked up 31 points with the boot.
While he may understand perfectly what it takes to become a Lion, the Welshman showed exactly how much having the opportunity to don the famous red jersey on a third Tour meant to him by posting his emotional reaction to watching the squad announcement on Instagram.
Having never had the opportunity to play at Eden Park, Halfpenny told the Lions website how excited he was to run out at the famous venue prior to facing the Auckland Blues at the stadium.
And despite the narrow 22-16 defeat to the Blues, the No 15 impressed with three penalties and a conversion for a haul of 11 points.
The full back’s ninth appearance in a Lions jersey was even more productive as not only was his kicking as metronomic as ever – with 20 points from the tee in a 32-10 victory over the Maori All Blacks – but he was also a threat in open play.
And having out-jumped Maori All Black full back James Lowe to claim that up-and-under, Halfpenny epitomised the respect between opponents that characterised the Tour by swapping jerseys with his opposite number after the game.
— Leigh Halfpenny (@LeighHalfpenny1) June 17, 2017
The 28-year-old’s fourth Lions Test appearance – following three in Australia four years prior – came off the bench in the opening 30-15 defeat to the All Blacks before he was also one of Warren Gatland’s replacements in the enthralling midweek draw with the Hurricanes.
And while he played no further part in the Test series, there was certainly one young man excited to see him land in Wellington ahead of the second Test.
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 25, 2017
Halfpenny ended the Tour having carried 29 times for 170 metres in his 231 minutes of action, beating five defenders, assisting a try and making seven successful tackles.
But just as important were his contributions off the field. He joined Peter O’Mahony and Dan Biggar in handing out gifts and meeting the locals at Mayfair Retirement Village while the Lions were stationed in North Auckland.
And he embodied the off-field spirit among the squad by consistently being one of the more vocal members whenever the Lions opted for a sing-song.
— Leigh Halfpenny (@LeighHalfpenny1) May 31, 2017